Why China Still Needs Fast Trains

High speed rail, hangzhou

High speed rail, hangzhou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“China’s High-Speed Rail: A Reassessment”
David Wolf

Wolf Group Asia
September 30, 2012

China’s massive investments in high-speed rail (HSR) have come under intense scrutiny, particularly in the wake of the fatal collision in Wenzhou last year and continuing revelations of graft, waste and mismanagement in the construction effort.

In this paper, the first in a series, I argue that despite the systemic failures that have dogged the system, China’s particular circumstances make the construction of the HSR network not only defensible but farsighted – not unlike the construction of America’s transcontinental railroads. The problem is in the details, not the general direction. Discussions on the future of the system should focus on the measures China must take to eliminate the graft, ensure safety, efficiency, and success.

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